Rita Dove





Promises

Each hurt swallowed
is a stone. Last words
whispered to his daughter
as he placed her fingertips
lightly into the palm
of her groom.

She smiled upwards
to Jesus, then Thomas,
turning her back as
politely as possible.
If that were the case
he was a mountain of shame.

Poised on the stone
steps of the church,
she tried to forget
his hulk in the vestibule,
clumsy in blue serge,
his fingers worrying the
lucky bead in his pocket.

Beneath the airborne bouquet
was a meadow of virgins
urging Be water, be light.
A deep breath, and she plunged
through sunbeams and kisses,
rice drumming
the both of them blind.